In February 2013, Google revealed plans to make one of the biggest changes to AdWords it had ever made with the announcement of Enhanced Campaigns. By no longer allowing advertisers to split campaigns by device its announcement was met with much furore and scepticism.
Whilst you could still exclude mobile devices with a bid modifier (for example, if your website was not mobile friendly), the main issue most had with Enhanced campaigns is that desktops and tablets were now considered to be the same thing by Google, who claimed user behaviour between the devices, on average, does not differ. This is something many disagreed with at the time, and still do today.
After these plans were revealed, Bing Ads launched a charm offensive with advertisers, criticising Google's decision to go against the wishes of advertisers:
"At Bing Ads, we believe very strongly in giving advertisers the tools and flexibility to control their spending, target the most relevant audiences, and ensure they can get the best return on investment. We do not believe bundling mobile, desktop and tablet advertising together in an opaque manner is in the best interests of our customers.
Our own customers have been concerned whether we would sacrifice control for convenience, and our answer is no."
To Bing's credit, it gave advertisers the option, whether to import Google Enhanced Campaigns into its platform, and to use bid modifiers to control spend on both tablet and mobile, or to continue to segment campaigns by device instead, thereby continuing to give you absolute control on spend, targeting and ad messaging.
So it was of much surprise to hear Bing Ads announce last week that come September, it too will no longer allow advertisers to segment desktops and tablets, and come early 2015, this will incorporate mobile devices.
"After much analysis and feedback, what we've found is that flexibility also means more complexity for many of our customers. The balance between flexibility and complexity is a moving target, but something we always strive to find. As a result, we've decided to change how Bing Ads handles device targeting. These changes will make it easier and more efficient for customers to manage their campaigns…."
It is disappointing to see this change in approach. At Greenlight we feel having the choice to use Enhanced Campaigns in Bing or to segment by device is a much useful one. In an ideal world, every client's website is mobile and tablet friendly, however this is not always the case. By grouping tablets with desktops in the way Google has, we've close to no control on spend on tablet advertising.
It's not all bad news though. A key difference with Bing's approach is that it will allow advertisers to use bid modifiers for tablet. The setback here though is that the biggest cap you can put on tablet bids is only -20% of the desktop cost maximum per click bid, which isn't something that makes sense and something we at Greenlight hope Bing will revisit and allow a -100% bid modifier, as you can with mobile.
The pleasing thing to see is that we will be able to apply a +300% bid modifier on tablet bidding. So for clients who see better performance from tablet advertising , they will have good control on influencing their return on advertising spend.
Historically Bing Ads has shown it is willing to adapt its platform after listening to advertiser's feedback, so hopefully it will introduce the ability to apply -100% bid modifiers on tablet bids in the future.
However, the burning question is - will we ever see Google allow advertisers to apply bid modifiers on tablet? It is a question Google itself is often asked. Only time will tell if Google and Bing are willing to listen.